The World’s Writing Systems
In the beginning was the letter

Sure, but which one? The Atelier National de Recherche Typographique (ANRT) in Nancy, France, the Institut Designlabor Gutenberg (IDG) of the Mainz University of Applied Sciences and the Script Encoding Initiative (SEI), Department of Linguistics of the University of California, Berkeley have been dealing with this question for three and a half years. A first answer can now be found here, in the TWWS online compendium. It is the first step of the long-term study "The Missing Scripts Project", which looks for the writing systems that are still missing in Unicode. As of today, there are still 146.

A challenge for script researchers and designers was to ensure that the correct classifications were used and not mere alphabets raised to the rank of a writing system. And another, to develop a synoptical font which would combine a single representative character for each system.

Das Poster zum Projekt, hochgehalten von Prof. Johannes Bergerhausen, Hochschule Mainz

Wysiwygs problem to solve was quite different: 292 glyphs in five sortings, a five-member color code and six breakpoints resulted in 43,800 different screens to design. Of course not everyone individually, but each small setting had partly amazing effects at the other end of the spectrum.

The glyph grid is at study and page level, according to alphabet, region, age, and Unicode version, and a click or tap shows the individual system with its key data and further links. And of course the one drawn glyph is as big as it gets. It ”lets you search, browse, sort, and generally geek out to your heart’s content“ as puts it.

For insiders there is the mobile portrait version without description, so that you can play Memory with it - and a turn into landscape betrays the name. As a 90° cheat mode.

ED Award Nominee
Red Dot Communications Award
Writing Systems
Design + Framework

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